Sunday, July 13, 2008


I don't believe in it. Yeah, all those rules, pfffft. If you're a native English speaker, yr doin it rite. Nuff said.

Slighly longer explication--English came to its grammar late. For a century or two, English gents learned Latin by hook or by crook. When these rather over-latinate folks got around to giving Engish a formal grammar, they did it wrong. That is, they imposed a number of rules that made no sense for a language that was Germanic at its root. So, all those rulz that you learned imperfectly? They have nothing to do with actual spoken English; they're imposed on the language from without. Don't worry.....

Schoolhouse Rock - Adverbs. "Suppose you're going nut-gathering...."


tamar said...

Ah spose yur explicatin taint long nuff to extinguish between em rulz you like an them thar furrin rulz. (Lak them frenchie rulz or freedom rulz) Ah expec yur gwina tell me you don' suscribe to none, but lemme tell you, I done seen all them verbs of yorn, conjugatin' an conjugatin' all oar the place. Dat aint rite!


djinn said...

Well, those rules that showed up out of nowhere and don't actually track the language (splitting infinitives, the "that," "which" distinction, ending a sentence in a preposition, the "lay," "lie" rule, certain parallelism conjugating rules) are the ones I dislike. One needs know them, but one can whine.

tamar said...

Glad to hear your notion of grammar isn't entirely post-modern.

My grammar peeves are more along the lines of concern over the increasingly common lack of simple subject/verb agreement. So many people say things like "there's many reasons..." nowadays. I hear newscasters make that mistake routinely. I would expect newscasters to speak more formally than that.

I also prefer that pronouns of the proper case be used. I acknowledge that language changes over time, but I suppose that I am in favor of resisting that change to slow it down. If nothing else, it could help keep our literary heritage more accessible; think of how impenetrable Beowulf is to us now since the language has evolved so much. It would be a shame if in a hundred years masterpieces such as "Tom Jones" or "Pride and Prejudice" were to become virtually unintelligible because of a linguistic evolution greatly accelerated by a cultural belief that all grammar is BS.

Sure, I have bigger fish to fry; but if I were to fry them I would use the subjunctive tense! Yum, crispy!

djinn said...

I forgot "hopefully." A perfectly fine word with which to start a sentence. Arrrgh. I suspect the "'s" being used to end "there" is not a contradiction for "is," but rather is a separate, correct verb form. I doubt they'd say "There is many reasons...." I know that it's thought (by whom I cannot recall) that 'em, in certain uses, such as "Let's get 'em," is not a contraction of them, but rather is a short form of the Danish word 'hem,' the lone linguistic survivor from the Danish invasion of 800 some odd. The "'s" may be similar.

This is basically my point--English is an immense, unwieldy, complex language not fully captured in its grammar.

During the "great vowel shift" in England circa 1400-1500 I recall reading that pronunciation changed so fast that grandparents could barely understand their grandkids. So such things happen, but I suspect the shear inertia in English today with so many speakers, will keep such rapid changes from happening. Hmm. I'm feeling much better, back to work I go. Hi Ho Hi Ho.

tamar said...

Unfortunately, "there's" is nothing more than a contraction of there and is. " There are" has no such contraction. Many times in American English, singular nouns that indicate a plurality are treated as if singular: a pair, a dozen, a lot. Thus people get confused because you can say "There's a lot of reasons...", but not "there's many reasons...". (Sorry, no separate verb form) The Brits are more consistent. They treat their plural nouns as plurals: "The corporation ARE pleased with recent hirings." We are not amused.

djinn said...

Shoot. Shot down. Another beautiful argument slain (uh, slayed? Slayd?) by an ugly fact.

tamar said...

Hey, I'm with you on "hopefully".
Interesting stuff about the vowel shift!
Oh, and one more example of faulty subject/verb agreement:

(from a TV commercial)

"Binder and Binder is America's most successful Social Security advocates."

I blame lawyers.

djinn said...

Ugh, that is one ugly-ass sentence. "Binder and Binder" is America's most successful Social Security Advocate. Nah, Mr. Binder and Mr. binder are among America's most successful social security advocates. Among America's most successfull Social Security advocates are Binder, Binder, surprise, and a fanatical devotion to the pope (such excellent footwear)! Uh, I'll come in again.

djinn said... Episode 64, at time 31:48. Someone who really really likes grammar.